Fall from India Place Page 65

I should end it. I should end it now. But I didn’t know if I was ready to cut him out of my life completely. I thought I could…

My eyes drifted away from him to stare blankly at my ceiling. It was about time I sorted my head out, it really was.

“You’re not even going to say anything?”

I snapped my gaze back to his to see him standing with his hands on his hips, his legs braced, as he exuded major pissed-off-macho-man vibes. Ignoring the threat, I replied, “What do you want me to say?”

Disbelief flashed in his eyes, and he leaned in to answer in guttural tones, “I want you to put a stop to this shit and admit you were wrong and that you love me. This arrangement is total bull and you know it.”

Somehow I kept my face perfectly relaxed. “It was all I was willing to give. And now I think it’s time to end it.”

Despite the disgusted look he gave in answer, he grunted, “Like I’m giving up that easy.”

Fine. I sighed, lacking the energy to fight him on this. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then?”

Marco exhaled heavily, as if clinging to the last threads of his patience. He shook his head. “I can’t. I’m doing a favor for Leah tomorrow. I’ll see you Monday after my weekend with Dylan.”

I nodded casually, which pissed him off even more. The way I know it pissed him off even more is that he stormed out of the flat without saying good-bye.

I reached for my phone on the nightstand and texted Cole:

I’m a mess.

“Okay, so your solution to taking my mind off Marco is to take me to D’Alessandro’s?” I frowned up at the exterior of the restaurant.

Cole chuckled. “What? I like the food.”

“We could go anywhere,” I grumbled. “Miscreant.”

Laughing, Cole grabbed my hand and led me inside, out of the cold and into the pleasant warmth of Marco’s uncle’s restaurant. “You know we’re going to spend most of the meal talking about him and why you’re acting like a hormonally imbalanced madwoman around him, so I don’t see why we can’t eat his family’s food as we do so.”

My hand still clutched in his, I warned, “Well, we’re going to spend the whole of the meal talking this through as payback, just FYI.”

He squeezed my hand. “I think I can handle a wee bit of girl talk.” We stopped at the hostess’s table and Cole gave her his name. She was leading us into the back room of the restaurant and I was about to respond belatedly to Cole’s comment with something cheeky when Cole jarred to a stop and I bumped into his back with the sudden loss of momentum.

“What —” My voice cut off when my eyes followed his gaze.


And he wasn’t alone.

My stomach flipped unpleasantly as I took in the sight of him smiling at some unknown blond woman.

Cole started to move us toward them, holding tight to my hand.

“What are you doing?” I hissed, feeling very close to having an emotional outburst and not wanting that bastard Marco to witness it.

“Trust me,” Cole urged.

As we approached the table, I managed to unglue my horrified gaze from Marco and his obvious date to see that they shared the table with Leah and an attractive dark-haired guy I assumed was her fiancé, Graham.

My gaze snapped back to Marco.

A double date.

I was going to be sick. Or I was going to kill him. We were only a few feet from the table when we drew Marco’s gaze. His expression softened at the sight of me until his eyes dropped to my hand in Cole’s and that expression instantly hardened.


He was on a double date and I was with a friend and he was pissed?

“Marco.” Cole greeted him pleasantly. “Just wanted to come over and apologize for… well, you know…” My best friend looked at the pretty blonde at Marco’s side. “I hope I’m not interrupting your date.”

Marco’s eyes clashed with mine and I knew he was definitely irritated with Cole. “It’s not —”

“We shouldn’t have interrupted.” I was studiously avoiding Leah’s burning gaze as I tugged on Cole’s hand. “We’ll let you enjoy your dinner. Cole.”

Cole gave Marco a tight grin before sliding his hand around my waist and leading us to the waiting hostess. As soon as she delivered us to our table, Cole sighed and said, “You’re shaking like a leaf.”

“I’m trying not to kill somebody,” I said through clenched teeth. “Let’s just go home.”

“Fuck that.” Cole let the anger shine from his eyes. “He can’t do this to you.”

“He’s not. I am. I’m doing this to me,” I muttered angrily. “I’m sending him mixed signals, he’s sending me mixed signals. It’s a whole bunch of f**ked-up mixed signals. And I really just want to go home before I end up doing hard time.”

Cole leaned into me, pressing his forehead against mine so I had nowhere to look but in his eyes or at my feet. I chose his eyes. “I’m sorry for taking you over there. But he knows that no matter how mixed up you are, underneath it all you love him. And he’s here on a bloody date? I wanted to shake him up, not you.”

“I’m fine.”

“You’re not fine. You’re trembling.”

“I’m trembling with anger. Cole —”

He cut me off by cupping my face in his hands and pressing a soft, sweet kiss to my lips. When he finally pulled back, I stared at him wide-eyed and more than slightly alarmed. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Reminding him he hasn’t won you yet and unless he fights harder he’ll lose you to someone else. He doesn’t need to know that someone will never be me, sweetheart.” He grinned unrepentantly.

I loved my best friend. Totally. I leaned up and pressed another soft kiss to his cheek. “You’re the best, but part of the reason I’m so messed up is because I don’t want him to fight harder. I want us to be over. I just don’t know how to let go.”

Cole leaned into me again, lips almost touching mine as he said quietly, “You need to stop lying to yourself, Hannah Nichols. You love him. You know you do. Otherwise you wouldn’t be in such a state.”

Before I could respond in the negative, a shadow fell over us and we pulled slightly apart to look to our right and into Marco’s furious face. Anger danced in his exceptional eyes and it was all directed at Cole. “You’ve got two seconds to move away from her before I f**k you up a million times worse than I did at the site.”

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